Oct 26, 2014

Late Seventies Mets Player: Gil Flores (1978-1979)

Gilberto Garcia Flores was born on October 27, 1952 in Ponce, Puerto Rico. The six foot, right hand hitting outfielder, was originally signed by the Baltimore Orioles in 1970. With such a talented rich organization in those days he was released by 1972.

From there he was picked up by the California Angels in 1973, playing five seasons at their minor league level before making it to the big leagues. The good base running outfielder, batted over .300 three straight years in the minors leagues. He first batted .307 at AA El Paso in 1975, then later that year he hit .329 in 44 games in the Pacific Coast League at Salt Lake City. In 1977 he was batting .333 at Salt Lake when he was called up to the Angels that May.

He debuted on May 8th, at Fenway Park in a game against the Boston Red Sox, playing centerfield & batting in the 8th spot. He got three hits, including a triple in his debut. Flores got into 104 games playing in the outfield & as a Designated Hitter that season for the 5th placed Angels. He batted .278, with one HR, 19 doubles 26 RBIs and stole 12 bases.

In 1978 he was back at AAA Salt Lake, he was batting .278 that July, when he was placed on waivers, where he was picked up by the New York Mets. The Mets started Flores out at AAA Tidewater where he hit .270 in 26 games, getting a September call up to Shea Stadium.

He made his Mets debut on September 5th, going hitless in a pinch hitting spot in a 8-0 Mets loss at Three Rivers Stadium. He appeared in eleven games hitting .276 (8-28) with an RBI for the last place '78 Mets.  Trivia: Flores also secured his spot with one of the Mets all time greatest moustaches, joining John Pacella of that same era. Flores has a similar stace to Kieth Hernandez, the all time moustache leader.

In 1979 season, he was on the dismal Mets club all year, seeing action in 70 games (93 at bats). He hit.194 with, three extra base hits, & ten RBIs. In April he was successful as a pinch hitter in four of seven at bats. On April 18th his fourth inning pinch hit double, drove in two runs in a 6-5 loss at Montreal. He didn't get another hit until June 25th when his average had fallen to .222.

On August 19th, he had his biggest day gathering three hits & hitting his second career HR. It was his only one of that season although it never left the ball park. Flores hit a 5th inning fly ball off Bill Bonham, to Reds right fielder Dave Collins, the ball got past him going all the way to the wall. Flores was a fast runner & beat out an inside the park HR, tying up the game. The Mets still went on to a 6-5 loss.
 He finished off the year driving in runs in back to back games in late September. Flores was back at Tidewater the next year & would play there for five more seasons through 1984.  Retirement: In a long 14 year minor league career he was a .298 hitter with 21 HRs 134 doubles & 351 RBIs in 1049 games.

In his three year MLB career he was a lifetime .261 hitter with 121 hits, two HRs, 20 doubles 15 stolen bases 37 RBIs & a .313 on base %.

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